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As you drive around town, watch television, or go through your mail, you’re likely to see the same ads for the same credit cards over and over again. Some might be decent cards, but many are the equivalent of the terrible movies and TV shows that are given overblown marketing budgets in the hopes that the producers can salvage their investment. 

But as someone who studies credit cards for a living, I occasionally stumble across a few hidden gems in this industry. These are cards that are almost never advertised on billboards but can be found in the wallets of the savviest credit card and award travel enthusiasts

Insider’s Featured Rewards Credit Cards

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Earn unlimited 3x points on restaurants, travel, gas stations, transit, popular streaming services and phone plans. Earn 1x points on other purchases.

30,000 bonus points when you spend $1,500 in purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

Earn 3x ThankYou® points at restaurants and supermarkets. Earn 3x ThankYou® points at gas stations, air travel, and hotels. Earn 1x ThankYou® points on all other purchases

80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Earn 5x points on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Earn 3x points on dining, including eligible delivery services, takeout, and dining out. Earn 3x points on select streaming services. Earn 3x points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs). Earn 2x points on other travel. Earn 1x point per dollar on everything else.

60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

Here are seven lesser-known credit cards that don’t get the attention they should.

We’re focused here on the rewards and perks that come with each card. These cards won’t be worth it if you’re paying interest or late fees. When using a credit card, it’s important to pay your balance in full each month, make payments on time, and only spend what you can afford to pay.

Lesser-known credit cards that are worth considering

Wyndham Rewards® Earner Plus Card

Wyndham Rewards® Earner Plus Card


Intro offer

60,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days


Rewards

Earn 6 points per dollar on eligible purchases made at Hotels by Wyndham. Earn 6 points per dollar on gas purchases. Earn 4 points per dollar on eligible dining and grocery store purchases (excluding Target and Walmart). Earn 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.

Barclays Wyndham Rewards® Earner Plus Card

Wyndham Rewards® Earner Plus Card


Intro offer

60,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days


Rewards

Earn 6 points per dollar on eligible purchases made at Hotels by Wyndham. Earn 6 points per dollar on gas purchases. Earn 4 points per dollar on eligible dining and grocery store purchases (excluding Target and Walmart). Earn 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.


Rewards

Earn 6 points per dollar on eligible purchases made at Hotels by Wyndham. Earn 6 points per dollar on gas purchases. Earn 4 points per dollar on eligible dining and grocery store purchases (excluding Target and Walmart). Earn 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.


Intro offer

60,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days


Recommended Credit

Good to Excellent


Regular APR

15.74%, 19.99% or 24.99%


Intro APR

0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months

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Would you and your family be more comfortable staying in a condo or a cabin, rather than a hotel room? The Wyndham Rewards® Earner Plus Card may be the card for you as the vast majority of the properties in the Wyndham Rewards program are vacation rentals, also known as timeshares.

This card allows you to earn points from your spending that you can redeem at not just Wyndham hotels, but also some very desirable vacation rental condos and even cabins. 

New cardholders can earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days (worth around $480 in stays, based on Insider’s points and miles valuations).

You also earn 6x points at Hotels by Wyndham and on gas, and 4x points on dining and grocery purchases (excluding Target and Walmart). All other purchases earn 1 point per dollar.

Free stays in hotels start at 7,500 points per night, and are either 15,000 or 30,000 points per night, per bedroom at vacation rental properties. There’s a $75 annual fee for this card.

Review: Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus card review

The Plum Card® from American Express

American Express The Plum Card® from American Express

The Plum Card® from American Express

American Express The Plum Card® from American Express

The Plum Card® from American Express

On American Express’s website


Rewards

N/A

N/A

Show more


Recommended Credit

Good to Excellent

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What if your business is booming, but you’re struggling to come up with the cash to pay for your expenses before you get paid for your invoices? If this problem sounds familiar, you should consider  The Plum Card® from American Express.

You won’t see it advertised much, but it’s the only card out there that gives you the option to pay in full each month or to carry a balance for up to 60 days with no interest. When you pay in full within 10 days of your statement closing date, you earn 1.5% cash back, which is pretty respectable.

But when your priority is smoothing out your cash flow, instead of earning the cash back you can avoid pricey interest charges while you wait on your accounts receivable.

There’s an annual fee of $250, but there’s currently no welcome bonus. 

PenFed Pathfinder® Rewards Visa Signature® Card

PenFed Credit Union PenFed Pathfinder® Rewards Visa Signature® Card

PenFed Pathfinder® Rewards Visa Signature® Card


Intro offer

50,000 bonus points when you spend $3000 in the first 90 days of account opening


Rewards

4X points on all travel categories for PenFed Honors Advantage Members, 3X points on all travel categories, 1.5X points on all other purchases


$95 (waived for existing Honors Advantage Members)

Annual Fee

PenFed Credit Union PenFed Pathfinder® Rewards Visa Signature® Card

PenFed Pathfinder® Rewards Visa Signature® Card


Intro offer

50,000 bonus points when you spend $3000 in the first 90 days of account opening


Rewards

4X points on all travel categories for PenFed Honors Advantage Members, 3X points on all travel categories, 1.5X points on all other purchases


$95 (waived for existing Honors Advantage Members)

Annual Fee


$95 (waived for existing Honors Advantage Members)

Annual Fee

On PenFed Credit Union’s website


Rewards

4X points on all travel categories for PenFed Honors Advantage Members, 3X points on all travel categories, 1.5X points on all other purchases


Annual Fee

$95 (waived for existing Honors Advantage Members)


Intro offer

50,000 bonus points when you spend $3000 in the first 90 days of account opening


Recommended Credit

Good to Excellent


Regular APR

17.99% APR on balance transfers, 17.99% Variable APR on purchases


Intro APR

0% balance transfers promo APR for 12 months made in the first 90 days after account opening, 3% fee applies to each transaction

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If you want a premium rewards card, without the premium price, you’ll have to look to PenFed, the nation’s second-largest credit union. The PenFed Credit Union PenFed Pathfinder® Rewards Visa Signature® Card includes a $100 annual domestic air ancillary travel statement credit, a $100 Global Entry or $85 TSA PreCheck application fee credit, and even a complimentary Priority Pass airport lounge annual membership (admission to the lounges is $32 per person). 

New applicants can earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $3000 in the first 90 days of account opening. Every cardholder earns 3x points on all travel purchases and 1.5x points elsewhere. But if you’re a PenFed Honors Advantage Member (you can qualify by opening a free checking account or as a military member), you earn 4x on travel purchases. The annual fee is $95 (waived for existing Honors Advantage Members).  

Capital One®️ Spark®️ Classic for Business

Capital One®️ Capital One®️ Spark®️ Classic for Business

Capital One®️ Spark®️ Classic for Business


Rewards

Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. Earn unlimited 1% cash back on every purchase with no minimums or expiration date.

Capital One®️ Capital One®️ Spark®️ Classic for Business

Capital One®️ Spark®️ Classic for Business


Rewards

Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. Earn unlimited 1% cash back on every purchase with no minimums or expiration date.

On Capital One®️’s website


Rewards

Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. Earn unlimited 1% cash back on every purchase with no minimums or expiration date.

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There are plenty of cards out there for consumers who’ve had some credit hiccups, but what do you do if you’re the owner of a thriving small business, but your personal credit report is still affected by past financial problems?

I recently spoke to just such a person, and recommended that she apply for the Capital One®️ Spark®️ Classic for Business, which is one of the few small-business cards offered to applicants with fair credit. She was immediately approved and now she’s enjoying 1% cash back on all of her company purchases, with a $0 annual fee. 

Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card

Alliant Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card

Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card


Rewards

Earn 2.5% cash back on your first $10,000 of monthly qualifying eligible purchases if you qualify for Tier 1 rewards (then 1.5% cash back on your monthly qualifying eligible purchases above $10,000). Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back rewards on all qualifying eligible purchases automatically if you don’t quality for Tier 1 rewards.

Alliant Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card

Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card


Rewards

Earn 2.5% cash back on your first $10,000 of monthly qualifying eligible purchases if you qualify for Tier 1 rewards (then 1.5% cash back on your monthly qualifying eligible purchases above $10,000). Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back rewards on all qualifying eligible purchases automatically if you don’t quality for Tier 1 rewards.


Rewards

Earn 2.5% cash back on your first $10,000 of monthly qualifying eligible purchases if you qualify for Tier 1 rewards (then 1.5% cash back on your monthly qualifying eligible purchases above $10,000). Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back rewards on all qualifying eligible purchases automatically if you don’t quality for Tier 1 rewards.


Recommended Credit

Good to Excellect


Regular APR

as low as 13.74%

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If you just want to earn a lot of cash back, the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card is worth a look. It offers an unequaled 2.5% cash back on up to $10,000 in purchases each billing cycle (then 1.5% back).

However, to earn that rate, you must qualify for Alliant’s Tier One Rewards, which means you’ll need to meet high-rate checking account and balance requirements. For those who don’t meet these criteria, the card earns 1.5% back on all purchases.

For high spenders who qualify for Tier One, that works out to as much as $250 in cash back per month. There’s no annual fee for this card. 

PayPal Cashback Mastercard®

PayPal PayPal Cashback Mastercard®

PayPal Cashback Mastercard®


Intro offer

one-time $100 cash back bonus on their first $500 spent


Rewards

Earn unlimited 3% cash back when you use your card and check out with PayPal, online, mobile, or in-store with PayPal QR Code where eligible, Earn unlimited 2% cash back on all other purchases where Mastercard is accepted

PayPal PayPal Cashback Mastercard®

PayPal Cashback Mastercard®


Intro offer

one-time $100 cash back bonus on their first $500 spent


Rewards

Earn unlimited 3% cash back when you use your card and check out with PayPal, online, mobile, or in-store with PayPal QR Code where eligible, Earn unlimited 2% cash back on all other purchases where Mastercard is accepted


Rewards

Earn unlimited 3% cash back when you use your card and check out with PayPal, online, mobile, or in-store with PayPal QR Code where eligible, Earn unlimited 2% cash back on all other purchases where Mastercard is accepted


Intro offer

one-time $100 cash back bonus on their first $500 spent

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When you think about PayPal, credit cards probably don’t immediately come to mind. That’s a shame, because the online payments giant offers one of the simplest and most rewarding cash-back credit cards you can get.

The PayPal Cashback Mastercard® offers unlimited 3% cash back on PayPal purchases, and 2% cash back on all other purchases, with no annual fee. To open the card, you must already have a PayPal account in good standing, and the rewards you earn will be deposited into your PayPal account.

U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

U.S. Bank U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

U.S. Bank U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card


Recommended Credit

Good to Excellent


Regular APR

17.49% – 27.49%(Variable)


Intro APR

0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 18 billing cycles

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The U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card is not an exciting credit card. It has no welcome bonus, earns no rewards, and doesn’t even come with many valuable benefits, other than a cell phone protection plan.

But it does have one of the longest introductory 0% APR offers currently available. New applicants receive a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 18 billing cycles, then a 17.49% – 27.49%(Variable) APR, with a 3% balance transfer fee.

That means that you won’t be incurring interest charges until 2024! There’s no annual fee for this card. 

Review: US Bank Visa Platinum card review



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